Looking back on 2012, it has been a good year and I’ve been lucky to work on some great jobs over the past 12 months for a host of new and existing clients. Alongside commissions, I have also been busily working on a self-initiated documentary series since April. As I’m now coming to the end of it, I’ll give a quick introduction into what I’ve been working on.
The series focuses on a controversial condition known as Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS). Sufferers report a multitude of symptoms, such as headaches, memory impairment, heart palpitations, sleep disorder, chest discomfort, fatigue and nausea. The main causes of which are attributed to man-made Electromagnetic fields, and in particular those from mobile phone and wireless internet technologies.
Given that the range and severity of symptoms and their triggers vary significantly amongst sufferers, on top of the fact that many of the symptoms can be attributed to other common ailments, it has been incredibly difficult for sufferers to prove the condition as bona fide. As a result, EHS has divided opinion among scientific and medical experts who research the condition.
Once someone has identified themselves as suffering from EHS, they often have to make difficult and radical changes to their lives; like moving to a remote part of the country, leaving or changing their job, cutting themselves off from wireless internet and mobile phones, and insulating their home to limit electromagnetic fields from penetrating the walls and windows. In doing so, their actions are often met with disbelief, doubt and ridicule from family, friends, work colleagues and employers. They are accused of being technophobes and are told that their symptoms are psychosomatic. As a result, EHS sufferers can feel isolated and let down by the medical profession and their government, and many choose not to talk about the condition, for fear of how they will be treated.
The official government line and that of the UK National Health Protection Agency is that there is not enough scientific evidence to support claims that these technologies have any negative health impacts, either short or long-term. They acknowledge that they need more time to know for sure, but at present they tell us that there is no need to worry.
Yet, if you dig beneath the press releases and corporate statements you’ll find that the answer is not so straight forward, especially since there are a growing number of scientific studies published that contradict the official guidelines.
I have been working with a number of charities in the UK and have traveled round the country meeting people who suffer from EHS, and some of the medical experts working in the area. I shot on large format film to allow for an analogue process where requested and conducted interviews with each person.
The photographs, article and video should be ready for release in early 2013. I will post up some portraits and more detailed information about the condition at a later date. For those of you who want to know a bit more now, this extensive report is a good starting point.
In the meantime, I hope you all have a great Christmas and a happy New Year!
The image above is from a series I was commissioned to shoot for the December/January issue of Modus Magazine . You can see the online version of the magazine here.
I shot the image of Piccadilly Circus originally for Geo Magazine. It was recently reprinted in the Guardian when they asked me to talk about the story behind the photograph for an article in G2. You can read it here.